EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- This week restaurants can open up in a limited capacity as Colorado starts allowing them to serve customers again. But some worry it won't last due to a 'second wave' of COVID-19 cases.
Dr. Leon Kelly, El Paso County Deputy Health Director, says reopening is what we've been working toward, but says it could bring more cases. Dr. Kelly still assures the community they are confident and prepared.
He says much of how this all pans out is up to us. As long as we protect our most at-risk community, together we can get through the summer.
Q: As we open, is there a concern there could be a second wave of cases or outbreaks?
A: There is no doubt as we open up things up and continue to progress and get people back outside into social activities, there are going to be an increase in number of cases. We have seen our total case counts go up since 'Safer At Home' progressed and we've been able to open up some of these things. That's O.K., it's expected, and one of the things we've been doing the entire time we were at home was public health. The hospitals have been building up the capacity to deal with situations where an increase in number of cases happen.
Q: Here in El Paso County we had the record of the most cases at one point. It was due to an outbreak at the Colorado Springs Bridge Center. Knowing our past, what's it like to know we've already encountered an outbreak early on?
A: We started this COVID-19 fight really worst case scenario with an outbreak in a large group of people that are high-risk. It was a trial by fire for our local public health department and hospitals, even our epidemiologists, on how to deal with this. So we've learned from this experience. Fear? There is no fear. We are prepared for what's to come and we also have the benefit of knowing what we've been through. We went from one of the worst counties in the country with our case fatality rate arguably the best metropolitan area along the front range.
Q: Whats does this mean as far as our fight with the pandemic? Is it slowing down?
A: This time is really critical. Really as we transition from what we were doing which was everyone had to stay at home and pivoting to a re-enter role. The shift goes from what public health is doing, or the hospitals are doing, or the governor and president is doing down to what individuals are doing. That is really the key difference here; now the fight against COVID falls on the individual and their daily decisions. Now the average citizen is a COVID-19 expert and so everyone knows what they're supposed to do. Everyone knows how to handle it, everyone knows what the symptoms are.